Weekend Wheeling in New York City
City-bound cyclists can find several rides outside of the classic Central Park (6.2 miles) and Prospect Park (3.4 miles) loops if they start to get dizzy and yearn for the open road. On any given Sunday morning (even rainy ones), the George Washington Bridge walkway is clogged with a colorful stream of riders headed for New Jersey to satisfy that yen. Once you're in the Garden State there are numerous options, but the most popular one is the wide shoulder of New Jersey Route 9W as it heads north up the Hudson River Valley.
A surprisingly scenic version of this ride takes you onto River Road, a rolling eight-mile stretch of pavement that begins under the George Washington Bridge and looks out over the Hudson. Turn left just after you pass the gate at the end of the pedestrian walkway on the New Jersey side of the bridge. Ride with traffic, merge to the left at the stop sign, and look for a small pull-out parking lot and gate onto River Road on the left after no more than half a mile. This left crosses traffic on a fast-moving downhill so watch carefully and be wary of cars behind you.
After battling pedestrians on the bridge, this shady route makes you feel like you're outside a quaint New England town, not the largest city on the East Coast. The tarmac is not the smoothest you can find, but the quiet character of this road erases any annoying bumps from memory. This is far and away the closest piece of worthwhile road riding in the New York metropolitan area.
The price to pay for this treat is that you have to climb out of the Hudson River Valley to get back up to 9W on your way to Nyack (about 20 miles from the bridge) or beyond. To get to Nyack, continue up 9W north into Sparkill. The road bears right into town and if you take a right on Piermont Road at the first intersection, you'll find the best bike route into Nyack. 9W can get crowded on its way into town. In Nyack, think of stopping in at the Runcible Spoon, a biker-friendly cafi with bike stands, free water, and a plethora of baked goods.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication